John Karolefski

Editor-in-Chief, CPGmatters

John Karolefski is the publisher and editor-in-chief of, a twice-monthly ezine that focuses on building brands through retail. He is also the executive director of the Shopper Technology Institute (STI), the only trade organization for providers of technologies and solutions that engage shoppers and analyze their behavior. STI produces and hosts the annual LEAD Marketing Conference which focuses on Loyalty, Engagement, Analytics and Digital applications.

Karolefski, the former senior editor of Supermarket News, is the co-author of three books: “Consumer-Centric Category Management,” “All About Sampling and Demonstrations,” and “TARGET 2000: The Rising Ride of TechnoMarketing.”

  • Posted on: 12/01/2022

    Will candy consumers recycle their wrappers?

    Bravo, Mars, for this move, which is good in theory. People have to deposit the new paper-based wrappers in special curbside recycling bins. And where exactly are these special bins? Everywhere? Snacks are consumed everywhere. Most of these candy bars are consumed by children. Will they be looking for special bins to throw away the wrappers?
  • Posted on: 11/23/2022

    Do digital coupons discriminate against those who can least afford it?

    "Discriminate" is such a hard word. It implies intent. Instead I would say that digital coupons do not benefit some demographics because they are not tech savvy or lack the hardware. The same way that cable TV or on-demand TV services may not benefit them. But that's the way life is. Progress cannot be halted because it does not benefit everyone. To reach those who do not have sufficient resources, grocers and makers of food and drink can offer more at-shelf discounts and invest more in paper coupons. Both are available to everyone.
  • Posted on: 11/18/2022

    Where is the innovation we should be seeing in store brands?

    Many shoppers have bought store brands during this time of inflation. Once inflation decreases, the temptation will be to go back to national brands, and certainly manufacturers will promote heavily to make that happen. That is why private label manufacturers need to enhance the quality of their brands now. In other words, make it difficult for shoppers to change their buying habits.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2022

    Can Walmart hold onto the new, wealthier customers it is picking up?

    Some new wealthier customers will continue to shop in Walmart after inflation subsides, but they won't tell anyone.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2022

    Will retailers use facial recognition tech to reshape store layouts?

    Facial recognition technology may help retailers, but shoppers won't like it. If they find out, shoppers will look for another place to do business.
  • Posted on: 11/10/2022

    Are Americans ready ‘to get back to back to the sport’ of Christmas shopping in stores?

    They may complain, but people like shopping in stores. The excitement of shopping during the Christmas season will be welcomed by all. Online shopping will decline slightly as a result.
  • Posted on: 11/04/2022

    Aldi and Walmart are turning back the clock on inflation for Thanksgiving

    Of course shoppers are more price sensitive this Thanksgiving than in 2021. Of course, Aldi and Walmart will have gained an edge in holiday shopping. They might lure shoppers away from their normal banners. Consequently, it will be interesting to see how these competing banners respond.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2022

    Have grocery self-checkouts been designed to disappoint?

    Grocers do not install self-checkout terminals because shoppers demand them, or because it makes shopping easier and more efficient. They do so to cut costs. Self-checkout terminals never ask for a raise, take a coffee break or get sick. Some retailers around the country -- Heinen's in Ohio comes to mind -- never install self-checkout because they provide more cashiers and outstanding customer service instead.
  • Posted on: 11/02/2022

    Greenpeace study trashes plastic recycling

    With some exceptions, consumers don't care about plastic packaging that is compostable, reusable or recyclable. They want convenience, and it's convenient for them to simply toss plastic packaging. Earth has a problem.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2022

    Is Circle K about to change the legal weed game in a big way?

    This is a slippery slope. If you don't know what I mean, you are probably already a user. Good luck.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2022

    Big retailers say they need more tech to deliver better customer experiences

    Here's a different opinion: retailers don't need more technology to provide a better customer experience. They have enough. What they need is more in-store associates to staff the customer service desk full time, to roam the store answering questions from often inquisitive shoppers, to staff checkout lanes fully (after getting rid of self-checkout) so there are minimum wait times, and to bag groceries. In short, invest in people and not more tech stuff.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2022

    How can grocers prevail in inflationary times without winning on price?

    The quick answer is to promote their quality store brands. To that, add what low-price leaders typically don't have -- excellent customer service. Finally, juice up their loyalty programs.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2022

    Are donation requests at the checkout worth the shopper anxiety they cause?

    Of course, donation requests at checkout are negative to the in-store shopping experience. And it reflects badly on the retailer. Surveys aside, common sense says such requests pressure shoppers, making them feel awkward, cheap and insensitive. Frankly, anyone who says otherwise on surveys is virtue signaling. Better to make such requests on the retailer's website or via email requests.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2022

    A bag ban is all part of the brand at Wegmans

    By banning all single-use plastic bags, Wegmans is providing leadership and environmental awareness in their communities. Other grocers, such as Giant Eagle in Cleveland, have already banned plastic bags. Shoppers at first didn't like toting reusable bags to the store, but they got used to it. At the end of the day, the big winner is the environment.
  • Posted on: 09/22/2022

    Should CPG brands cast their DTC businesses in a supporting role to stores?

    From the beginning, DTC sounded like a reasonable, but questionable, channel. As it turns out, the sales volume never matched the hype for most companies. Few shoppers wanted to spend their time visiting several CPG sites to obtain what they needed.

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